Barbara Leo Holdship, 87 of Kalamazoo, died on Friday, October 16, 2020, with her family at her side. Barbara was born December 31, 1932, in Minneapolis, Minnesota to the union of Henry Leo and Julia Agnes (O'Reilly) Vandemark. After graduating from St. Augustine's High School in 1950, Barbara attended Western Michigan University, where she met Thomas Loring Holdship, whom she married in 1955. In 1956, Barbara and Thomas moved to Alexandria, West Virginia where they made their home while Thomas served his country with the United States Army. After returning to Kalamazoo in the mid-'60s, Barbara and Thomas became the owners of Oakwood Beverage, where their "mom and pop" store remained open for 31 years until their retirement in 2001. Barbara was an astute businesswoman and bookkeeper and ran the business side by side with her husband.
Barbara is survived by Thomas, who she has been married to for almost 65 years and spent almost every day of the last 70 years by his side. Also surviving are their two daughters, Susan Loring (Rick) Jones of Kalamazoo, and Molly Elizabeth (James) Brawley of Niles; two grandsons (who lovingly called her Gramma Kalamazoo), Andrew James (Kaitlyn) Brawley of Niles and Joshua David Brawley, of Grand Rapids; Mary Atkocunis, Barbara's older sister of Bronson, Michigan; and a special niece, Barbara (Paul) Adams, of Kalamazoo.
Barbara enjoyed seasonal decorating and arts and crafts, passing on those talents to Susan. Barbara was an avid reader and took her daughters to the public library, instilling the love of reading at a very early age. Barbara loved attending activities in her retirement complex, where monthly "teas" and other socials gave her time to share her pride for her children and grandchildren. Whether it was watching college football and basketball on TV or hearing about Andrew's collegiate baseball career, or discussing the state of our great country, Barbara was very in tune with a variety of current events. A passionate observer of the political scene, she wanted nothing more than equality, justice, and peace for our country, and voted in every election. This passion was one her grandson Josh admired and spoke about often.
Barbara was preceded in death by her parents; a sister, Patricia Zimmerman Riddle; sister and brother-inilaw, Ann Larsen and William Larsen; brothers-in-law, Richard Zimmerman, Walker Riddle, and Charles Atkocunis; two nephews, John Zimmerman and Richard "Kingo" Zimmerman; and niece, Julie Zimmerman.
Following her wishes, cremation has taken place and interment will occur at a later date at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Battle Creek. Please, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to the Rose Arbor Hospice Residence, care of Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.
Please visit Barbara's personal page to leave a condolence at https://www.langelands.com
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Rose Arbor Hospice Residence c/o Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan
222 N Kalamazoo Mall #100, Kalamazoo MI 49007